Last March, The American Census Bureau reported that the American Hispanic population had climbed to over 50 million, a 43% increase in the U.S. Spanish-speaking population in the last decade. In a country with a declining newspaper industry, this represents a huge opportunity for publishers and advertisers alike.
According to NPR, Spanish language media is growing in all sectors. This week's convention by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists covered these trends. The convention hosted Monica Lozano as a keynote speaker, CEO of one of the largest Spanish-language newspaper companies in the U.S, ImpreMedia. Lozano noted the growth potential for the digital news sector, remarking that 60% of all Latinos are now online.
Lozano explained the need for Spanish-language publications, underlining what makes them relevant for Hispanics. She says that there is a content divide between English and Spanish language publications. When covering Hispanics, she claimed English-language media focuses on events, like border violence, and excludes achievements, such as the growth of Hispanic businesses.
She is not the first to comment on the different content covered. In 2006, Forbes reported that Spanish language media devotes less coverage to U.S. politics, but more to international affairs. Forbes credits it with playing a role in the immigration protests of 2006, in which thousands of people across the U.S. demonstrated over a proposed change in immigration policy.
Beyond content, the publications cropping up throughout the states are important because they provide a lucrative marketing opportunity. According to the 2010 Census Bureau statistics, the average Hispanic age is 10 years younger than the average age of non-Hispanics, making it an especially attractive demographic for advertisers. And while many Hispanics are bilingual, a comScore Media Metrix analysis previously showed that half of Hispanic Internet users prefer to consume media in Spanish. While this may change over generations, Spanish-language media is important for the immediate future.
As Hispanics increase their internet use, more Spanish newspapers are going digital. Many local papers, such as L.A.'s La Opinion and Miami's El Nuevo Herald, have up-to-date websites. Some american media giants have begun incorporating Spanish publishing into their digital strategies as well, such as AOL, Yahoo, and MSN. In fact, MSN's MSN Latino site boasts the spot as 4th most popular publisher for Hispanic audiences, and is the most popular Hispanic site from an English-language parent company. Perhaps this is due to the company's partnership with TeleMundo, one of the largest Spanish language television outlets.
Not all of this media growth has been welcomed, however. In 2005, The Greeley Tribune of Greeley, Colorado launched a free weekly in Spanish. The decision was met with angry comments and cancelled subscriptions by readers who felt as though the publication was "encouraging illegals".
Jim Elsberry, publisher of The Greeley Tribune, defended the move, saying, "We want to be the newspaper for everyone in [our] county." In spite of the controversy, local businesses have taken advantage of the opportunity to reach out to the town's 30% Hispanic population.
With more Puerto Ricans on the East Coast, Cuban-Americans in the Florida, and Mexican-Americans in the Southwest, newspapers have an opportunity to capitalize an enormous market. Engaging Hispanic communities widens readership and attracts advertising revenue that the press needs. American newspapers have the opportunity to connect different demographics and support Spanish-speakers transition between English and Spanish.
Photo Credit: Silver Spring Daily